Summary: Church leaders need prayer.
Series: I Am a Church Member
(based on and adapted from Thom Rainer’s book by the same name)
“I Will Pray for My Church Leaders”
When we are finished this morning, we will be 2/3rdsof the way through our congregational book study and the messages on the themes in Thom Rainer’s book I Am a Church Member. Today, we’re in Chapter 4: “I Will Pray for My Church Leaders.”
I have to confess to you this morning that I was a bit nervous about the subject of this chapter. I felt uncomfortable about preaching on this particular topic because I am intimately part of its scope. But as I studied and prepared, I saw multiple times where the apostle Paul asked for prayer for his needs and the needs of his ministry companions. I realized that if the apostle Paul thought it important enough to do on multiple occasions that I shouldn’t feel awkward about doing it as well.
A short while back, I presented a message based on Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy routines You Might Be a Redneck If. The message we studied was You Might Be a Hypocrite If. Several years ago, Stan Toler and Mark Hollingsworth wrote a little book called You Might Be a Preacher If. Let me share some of their humor with you.
1. You might be a preacher if you’ve ever received an anonymous U-Haul gift certificate.
2. You might be a preacher if you’ve ever dreamed that you were preaching, only to awaken
and discover that you were.
3. You might be a preacher if you find yourself counting people at a sporting event.
4. You might be a preacher if you’re leading the church [into the next decade] but don’t
know what you’re preaching next Sunday.
5. You might be a preacher if you wish that someone would steal some of your sheep.
6. You might be a preacher if you’ve ever walked up to the counter at the Dairy Queen and
ordered a church split.
7. You might be a preacher if instead of getting ticked off, you get “grieved in your spirit.”
8. You might be a preacher if you secretly wanted the worship team to douse you with Gator
Ade after a particularly good sermon.
9. This last one leads us to where we’re going with the message this morning and where
most preachers and church leaders have been at some point. You might be a preacher if
you’ve written a letter of resignation on a Monday.
Leadership in general today is tougher than ever before and church leadership is no different. There is an attitude that resists authority that pervades not only the world but the church as well. Leadership is not an easy job.
People distrust leaders. Over the last 30-40 years, our experience with political, corporate, and even church leaders has put us in a position to be wary. I think that attitude especially applies to church leaders. We have seen some horrendous and truly harmful scandals that have affected the church’s testimony to the world.
We shouldn’t be surprised by these scandals, though. The Bible clearly tells us that there will be people who try to use church leadership for ungodly purposes. Matt. 7:15 – [Jesus says] “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Paul warns the elders of the church at Ephesus in Acts 20:29-31a – “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard!”
The role and goal of church leadership is to mold the local believers into a biblically functioning team. A team works together to achieve the same goal. Just like any sports team, the church is made up of people with different gifts, different personalities, and different skill levels. A church’s leadership is put into place to shape all of these different members into a body of people who utilize their differences yet work together to accomplish the goal – the furthering of the gospel of Christ.
Most sports teams have one person that is their MVP – their Most Valuable Player. If the local church is seen as a team working together to accomplish the same goals, does the local church then have an MVP?
I think that the church has multiple MVPs. If that idea is correct, who might these people be?
You might think of the ministerial staff or the elders as the MVPs. On a sports team, the coaches are important. They’re the people who get the team in condition, teach them what they need to know and what they’re supposed to do, deal with the difficulties of the team, develop game plans and strategies, and a whole lot more. But coaches are not the MVPs.